Whats New in Office 2013 for Developers?

Microsoft Office 2013 is not just – yet another version of Office. It has a lot of features that extends the functionality of Office and provides customers with easy tools to to work on their data with minimal work. Let us see how it matters for us being developers.

In Office 2013, web was brought to client applications, which means one can develop application for Office in any comfortable technology like PHP, Python, Perl or ASP.NET etc. Earlier the only option for developing app for Office Client was VBA. Now, the developers has a wide variety of choices.

Following figure is from MSDN Library which shows the web integration in Office Applications.

Web-based features in Office 2013 Apps

The advantage with the integration of Web in Office is that – all applications use the same code base (Code hosted on Server). So, the hassle of updating the Apps in clients is removed.

This doesn’t mean the the older technologies like Visual Studio Tools for Office (VSTO) is retired. One can still write add-ins using VSTO. Following chart shows the variety of options for developers to write Office Apps.

Options for Developing Office 2013 Apps

Now, we develop our apps using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript and use it in Office Client. A classic example for this is – Showing the Sales in an Year and using Bing Maps web service to display it in map.

Office Developers now can upload their applications to Office Store which is similar to Windows Phone Marketplace, where users browse and download applications of their interest. I will cover more about this in my future posts.

Organizations can have Internal App Stores called App Catalog, where Administrators can manage what applications can be installed by their users. If a User needs an application, he can request for an app. And Administrator buys and adds it to Internal Store (App Catalog) if he feels that it is a useful application.

If there are any internal applications which the user/organizations cannot upload to Marketplace, they have an option to Side Load their apps in their clients without uploading to Office Store.

Application development in Office 2013 is based on common API for Web based apps. By just adding office.js to your page, you can access the application data. Following image shows the common API to Office.

Common Office API

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